Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Skytrain, Jim Thompson and the out of petrol taxi

We used a different form of transport today, the Skytrain, an elevated rail line, to the National Stadium stop. The pretty ticket cost a 30 bahts, which is less than a pound but more expensive than the ferries.

We had views over green Lumphini Park and then the Royal Bangkok Sports Club with a racecourse and a golf course right in the centre of the city.

From the National Stadium station it was a short walk to Jim Thompson's House. Jim Thompson was an American who settled in Thailand at the end of the Second World War. He reinvigorated the Thai silk industry - the silk used in The King & I and Ben Hur was commisioned from him. He met a mysterious early death while on holiday in Malaysia, he just disappeared never to be seen again.

His house consists of several 200 year old or so teak houses brought to the site from various places and reassembled in the small khlongside garden. The houses are on stilts in case of flooding, and as is usual when entering a home or temple shoes are left at the entrance. It was a short tour, the house was lovely, put together with style and flair, worth the trip.

We then took a circular route home hopping on the khlong saen saeb ferry that stops near Thompson's house. This was fast and as it surged away the striped canvas sides were raised, obliterating any view, to stop passengers being drenched with spray and the wash generated from the sides of the khlong. This ferry is so fast the ticket collecter wears a crash hat for protection as they cling to the outside of the craft!

We looked at the Golden Mound - a chedi built on the remains of an enormous chedi, so big it collapsed on inadequate foundations. This now provides a solid footing for the present smaller edifice.

At the foot of the Mound we negotiate a price with a taxi driver to get us back to our hotel. He sets off past the Democracy Monument and then drops us at the familiar Grand Palace as its petrol empty light flashes alarmingly - we don't mind he didn't charge us for this unfortunate oversight of his and so we end up on our familiar river ferry back to the cool hotel pool and the very English afternoon tea.


PMM&L said...

Goodness me you guys are getting around! All sounds brilliant. Glad somethings are global and you got a decent cuppa!

axx said...

Phewie needed the cuppa! Haven't written about our trip to the National Museum yesterday and the Vimanmed Mansion complex today - that needed a long cool beer :-)